The International Committee on Giyur, founded by the late Rabbi Chaim Kreiswirth, Chief Rabbi of Antwerp, has issued a strong letter of support for the decision by the Rabbinical Supreme Court of the Chief Rabbinate invalidating all conversions performed since 1999 by Rabbi Chaim Drukman, the head of the Conversion Authority. The Committee, which is headed by Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein, said that only converts that “accept mitzvos at the time of giyur” may be considered halachacially converted. It noted that “even if it becomes clear that the ger did not accept mitzvos at the time of giyur and subsequently did observe mitzvos, the conversion is invalid.”
The Committee supported the decision of the rabbis on the court that is headed by Rabbi Avrohom Sherman, and joined by Rabbis Chaim Izerer and Rabbi Avrohom Sheinfeld. It also supported Rabbi Avraham Attaya, the dayan in Ashdod who ruled that the conversion of a woman who is not an observant Jewess and geyrus performed by “dayanim” who do not insist on “kabbolos mitzvos” is not a conversion.
The Rabbinical Supreme Court declared all conversions performed since 1999 by Rabbi Drukman, the head of the Conversion Authority, as invalid. The decision followed the review by Rabbi Attaya of the case where the “convert” turned out to be a non-observant Jewess. The rabbonim ruled that it was permitted to retroactively cancel the conversion of someone who did not observe Shabbos from the time of conversion. The high court ruled the Jewish status of the woman questionable and ordered that she and her children must be added to the list of me’ukvei nissu’in (people who cannot marry under Jewish law). Out of extra caution, her husband was also added to the list of illegal marriages despite his being a Jew by birth
The rabbonim have been under attack by a coalition of liberal rabbonim, the media and Knesset members. The Knesset Public Relations Committee convened a special session to address the matter. MK (Degel HaTorah) Rabbi Moshe Gafne blasted the committee members, telling them that rabbinical scholars, dayanim, rendered a decision based on Torah Law and therefore, they have no right to second guess their ruling. Rabbi Gafne added if they wish to change the halachic ruling, they should change the law to read conversion should not be carried out in accordance to Jewish Law and then it will be clear. For as long as conversions must comply with law he explained, the ruling of the Rabbinical Supreme Court must be honored.
The Eternal Jewish Family (EJF) in a statement said that the large number of conversions that were recently ruled invalid by the Rabbinical Supreme Court is “further proof of the urgency of adopting universal conversion standards that are based on the opinions of major halachic authorities.” EJF is the leading international organization that has been in the forefront of promulgating universal conversion standards in intermarriage under the guidance of leading Gedolei Hatorah in the US and Israel.
EJF strongly defended Rabbi Sherman as a “leading Torah scholar” whose opinions are greatly valued by Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliyashiv, the posek hador. “It is unfortunate that the decision of a bais din of esteemed Torah scholars became the subject of debate in the media and by some rabbinic organizations both here and in Israel,” the EJF statement concluded.
“The developments in Israel are a striking example of the colossal tragedy that can affect families when the conversion is not done according to the standards of the leading halachic authorities including such halachic giants as Harav Sholom Yosef Eliyashiv and Harav Shmuel Wosner,” said Rabbi Leib Tropper, Rosh Yeshiva of Kol Yaakov in Monsey NY, who serves as head of the Rabbinical Committee of EJF. He pointed out that a major conference in 2006 in Jerusalem was designed to coalesce the Torah consensus of the minimum standards of geyrus that had been outlined by the leading Torah authorities of the past and present.
EJF is a project of the Lillian Jean Kaplan Jewish Pride Through Education Project, an affiliate of Horizons. It has sponsored major conferences on Universally Accepted Conversions in Intermarriage with the participation of more than 1000 leading Orthodox rabbis from around the world. These conferences were held in such US cities as Newark, Boston, Washington, and Miami as well as Jerusalem. EJF also supports affiliated botei din that follow the dictates of the leading Torah authorities, including Rabbi Reuven Feinstein (US) and Rabbi Yosef Sholom Eliyashiv and Rabbi Shmuel Wosner (Israel).